After a long stretch of getting together for rehearsals only over the Internet, it was an exciting day for the Oregon SenateAires on May 13, 2021. We were able to stand together IN PERSON at the ballpark to sing the Star-Spangled Banner for opening day of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes Baseball Club. This is not the first time we’ve been given this great honor – for several years, we have been privileged to open the Volcanoes’ season singing our National Anthem. It was wonderful to be able to share our harmony in the Barbershop style with the 1100 fans in attendance. Baseball history was made as this was the very first game of the all-new Mavericks League and was held in our hometown team’s park. During the 7th inning stretch, we also sang God Bless America for the crowd, and were met with very appreciative comments as we left the field for our seats. Sharing our hobby with the world is part of the reason we work so hard on our music – and being able to honor our great country and launch another season of our National Pastime made us doubly blessed.
Just like everyone else on the planet, the SenateAires have struggled during the pandemic to stay “fresh” and engaged. We’ve definitely missed singing in front of our friends and audiences, but just as much, we have missed being around each other and the camaraderie inherent to Barbershop singing. Thanks to the leadership of our director, we’ve been able to get together on-line via ZOOM on a weekly basis. We’re still meeting on Thursday evenings, and going over our repertoire. Will and the music team have been making sure we know our parts – and we’ve even learned some new songs.
On a few occasions, when conditions were such that it was possible, we have been able to meet outdoors at a local school, utilizing its outdoor recreation area, open on two sides to let lots of air through, to rehearse as a group. For most of us, this was a particularly rewarding evening as many of us have been pretty much sequestered in our homes, not venturing out except for real necessities. Being able to see the guys face-to-face and sing with them in person – albeit socially distanced and wearing masks – was nothing short of wonderful.
Once conditions permit, we’re going to resume in-person rehearsals, to be sure. However, until that time, we will definitely continue gathering virtually to practice our craft. We welcome virtual visitors to our rehearsals. If you’re interested in joining in the fun and making some awesome music, reach out to us. It’s definitely the music that brings us together, but it’s the friendships that make us stay!
When I was asked this question, I had to stop for a moment and reflect. You see, I’m not sure that’s the right question. I don’t miss singing – for I do it every day to some extent. I do, however, miss singing with my brothers in harmony, and I DEFINITELY miss singing for an audience. Yeah, there’s no doubt that I’m a bit of a “ham” in that regard. I crave that look on people’s faces when they hear those chords ring – tapping their feet to the tunes, swaying back and forth. It makes them feel good, and that shows on their faces with the smiles that shine back at us.
I also miss the rewarding chills that overtake us when four parts generate five notes – that overtone that warms our heart and brings a smile to everyone within earshot. I miss the fun, the camaraderie, and the sheer joy of making a cappella music. Pure. Simple, yet complex. Whether an upbeat ragtime, or a slow and heartfelt ballad, the joy of music unites us all and adds positivity where it was previously missing.
I also miss the storytelling that is such an integral part of our craft. I miss the look of sheer delight when we sing a song that is familiar to our audience but sung in a way they may not have heard before. I miss the times we can get together to cheer someone up, or to remember a love one who has crossed over that bridge to the chorus eternal.
These are the things I miss most. What do YOU miss most?
Will has been a valued member of our chorus for many years, and until early 2020, also served as the assistant director. A high school music educator, Will is used to working with musicians of all skill levels, turning them into championship performers. His students have been recognized as champions on many levels both locally and state-wide.
Following the retirement of our Hall-of-Fame Director, Steve Morin, Will took on the role of Interim Director for the SenateAires. Quickly assembling a new music team along with a few other people in key roles, Will took on the monumental job of keeping our group engaged, even though our world had been turned completely upside down with a global pandemic that prevented us from meeting in person. Will was not at all fazed by that daunting task; drawing upon his innate leadership qualities and educational background, he devised a plan to help us stay positive, engaged, and even to learn some new music – all “virtually” using just our on-line meetings. He and the music team introduced several new songs, working with all the members, with section by section learning until we were comfortable singing on our own.
Will has helped us to remember that our brotherhood, our family with the love for making music and serving others, is much stronger than the forces that try to keep us apart. We are all better with him, and we look forward to continuing our growth, not only in numbers, but also in our proficiency. Now, voted unanimously by our Board of Directors, we are grateful and delighted to welcome Will as our permanent director. Thank you, Will, for agreeing to be our leader.